March/April 2016 

An experimental drug that can protect cells from HIV in three different ways

The pharmaceutical company ViiV Healthcare has bought an unusual compound nicknamed combinectin. This drug was developed by another company called Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) and was designed to interfere with HIV’s ability to enter cells in three different and complex ways. Most of these involve impairing HIV’s ability to interact with key molecules on the surface of cells of the immune system. Combinectin (code named BMS-986197) has a protein molecule attached that helps it to resist being broken down.

Animal experiments suggest that combinectin has similar potency to standard triple anti-HIV therapy.

Researchers expect that combinectin may need to be injected once weekly, just under the skin, in monkeys and humans.

As ViiV has only recently bought this compound (along with a suite of different experimental anti-HIV drugs from BMS), it may take several months for the corporation to prioritize the research and development plans for this and other drugs. Until those plans are completed, we will not know the development timeline for this unique drug.

—Sean R. Hosein


Krystal M, Wensel D, Sun Y, et al. HIV-1 combinectin BMS-986197: a long-acting inhibitor with multiple modes of action. Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, 22-25 February 2016, Boston, MA. Abstract 97.